New York -- Despite a last-minute effort by the City
Council to influence the process, Time Warner Cable signed a new 10-year franchise
agreement covering its 1.1 million subscribers here last week.
Legal representatives from the city's legislature
sought a temporary restraining order blocking the city's Franchise and Concession
Review Committee, which is controlled by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, from approving the new
The council contended that its own, five-year-old
franchise-authorization resolution violated state regulations because it gave the
legislature no say in franchise approval.
State Supreme Court Justice Lou York heard arguments on the
matter last Wednesday and signed the TRO, according to Robert Jacobs, senior vice
president, legal, regulatory and public affairs for Time Warner Cable's New York City
Lawyers for the FCRC then went to a State Supreme Court
Appellate Division judge, who modified the TRO.
Essentially, the appellate judge ruled that the FCRC could
approve the franchise, and the mayor could sign it, because any franchise agreement must
be approved by the state Public Service Commission anyway, Jacobs said.
The FCRC then voted for the franchise, and the mayor signed
it, Jacobs added.
Time Warner has four separate New York franchises, in
Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island. Cablevision Systems Corp. has about 480,000
subscribers in the Bronx and Brooklyn. That franchise is scheduled to expire in October,
as was Time Warner's.
Cablevision's negotiations with the city and with
local-access organizations lagged behind those of Time Warner, according to officials
involved in the process, and the FCRC did not vote on Cablevision's franchise last
This could make Cablevision subject to modified franchise
terms being proposed by the City Council's Zoning and Franchises Subcommittee of the
Land Use Committee. The subcommittee was scheduled to vote on the modifications -- which
include limiting the franchise term to five years, instead of 10 -- last Thursday.
Cablevision officials did not return calls seeking comment.